Brown encourages Ohioans to speak up about health care

Staff Writer

Late Friday night, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas issued a decision ruling former President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as unconstitutional.
His ruling argued that the law couldn’t stand because last December Congress repealed an individual mandate which imposed a tax penalty on those without coverage.
On Wednesday, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, D — Cleveland, held a phone conference with members of the media to discuss his disdain on the ruling along with John R. Corlett, president and executive director of The Center for Community Solutions (CCS) in Cleveland.
“The judge ruled to strike down the entire health care law based on a faulty partisan reading of the law,” Brown started. “The only reason Republican Attorney Generals were ever able to file this lawsuit is because of the tax law that the president and Republicans, list winter, slipped it into their tax bill paving the way for this last ditch effort to kill health care reform. We’ve fought back before, we’ll fight back again, we will win on this again.
“I want to be clear to people … the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land. It’s stood up in court battles before and no one’s health insurance changes right now. But be clear what’s at stake if their ruling stangs. Tax credits to help you afford insurance would be gone, protections for 130 Americans, 130 million Americans — 5 million of them in Ohio — protections for those americans with pre-existing conditions would be gone, staying on your parents health insurance until you’re 26 would be gone, Ohio’s entire medicaid expansion would be gone, limits on how much you pay out of pocket would be gone, more affordable prescription drugs for seniors … requirements for insurance companies to cover essential services like hospital visits would be gone, the list goes on and on and on.”
In 2014, Gov. John Kasich expanded Medicaid eligibility that allows, “Ohioans ages 19 through 64 with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) to become eligible for Medicaid,” according to the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM). Prior to this ruling, those eligible for Medicaid as adults were limited to requirements such as parenthood, disability or income limitation at or below 90 percent of the FPL.
The ACA has come under attack before, and Brown said he wasn’t too concerned about how it would hold up in court. However, he wanted to ensure Ohioans, especially those benefiting from the Medicaid expansion were speaking out about how this has helped them provide insurance for their families, specifically those with pre-existing conditions.
Corlett spoke to reporters after Brown, giving his opinion on the ruling, as he’s seen the expansion benefits through his line of work. According to their website, CCS is a nonpartisan groups that would to create solutions for health, social and economic issues. They collect data that is used by other organizations in Northeast Ohio to help identify changes in demographics they may affect those organizations.
“Judge O’Connors ruling shows a sweeping disregard for the damages this decision would do to Americans, specifically Ohioans,” Corlett said. “Particularly around the question of Medicaid because this decisions would in fact invalidate the Medicaid expansion that currently provides health care coverage for approximately 640,000 people in Ohio. Expansion cut our uninsured rate in half to historic lows.”
According to, from 2013 to 2017, the uninsured rate for Ohio went down 46 percent, as a result of the Medicaid expansion. The same site says 597,667 people have received Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) since fall 2013 to July 2018.
Corlett mentioned that O’Connors ruling not only affects adults on the Medicaid expansion but also children on CHIPs.
“The ACA also included important advances for children. O’Connor’s decision to strike down the ACA would also invalidate the Medicaid expansion coverage for children who aged out of foster care,” Corlett said. “It would disrupt CHIP coverage, Children’s Health Insurance Program, for young people. That would happen because the ACA for the first time streamlined eligibility. That made it easier for children and their families to get coverage. If we go back to the old ways, we’ll have a less effective programs that serves less children.
“We also can’t forget that Ohio is still in the grips of an opioid epidemic that’s killed thousands. But the expanded access to treatment with the Medicaid expansion is starting to make a difference.”
He went on to say that if this decision was upheld all the progress Ohio has made to fight back against opioid addiction and help individuals afford treatment would be undone and the death toll would rise again. Corlett added more treatment centers opened in the state because of the Medicaid expansion covering the cost of treatment.
“If we take that away those treatment centers will shut down, they will close, and that won’t just affect people in the Medicaid space, it will affect all Ohioans who are seeking treatment,” he said.